Two Nations in Your Womb: Per­cep­tions of Jews and Chris­tians in Late Antiq­ui­ty and the Mid­dle Ages

Israel Jacob Yuval
  • Review
By – June 15, 2012
First pub­lished in Hebrew in 2000, Israel Yuval’s book has proven to be high­ly con­tro­ver­sial. He seeks to turn upside down many long-stand­ing views of Chris­t­ian polemics, and of the absence of Jew­ish respons­es. Instead, Yuval argues that often in the Mid­dle Ages Jew­ish rit­u­al dec­la­ra­tions and argu­ments includ­ed veiled answers to Chris­t­ian asser­tions and aggres­sive actions. These are qual­i­fied, to be sure, by the suf­fer­ing of the minor­i­ty play­er, some­times of course suf­fer­ing to the point of mas­sacre. Nev­er­the­less, the stan­dard view has been that polemic toward Chris­tian­i­ty was large­ly absent in Tal­mu­dic and medieval Judaism. Accord­ing to Yuval, the rejec­tion of Chris­tian­i­ty is often evi­dent in the lit­er­a­ture. He finds ancient Jew­ish Passover rit­u­als that includ­ed polem­i­cal respons­es; Chris­t­ian accu­sa­tions of Jew­ish rit­u­al mur­der of Chris­t­ian chil­dren that fol­lowed after the events of the Rhineland killing of their own Jew­ish chil­dren in 1096 (although designed to thwart the Cru­saders’ arrival to kill or con­vert); and mes­sian­ic expec­ta­tions of the 13th cen­tu­ry that were jux­ta­posed with dec­la­ra­tions of judg­ment on Chris­tians. Counter-nar­ra­tives ran both ways, accord­ing to Yuval, and thus fig­ured in the devel­op­ment of both reli­gions. Index. 

Mark D. Nanos, Ph.D., Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas, is the author of Mys­tery­of Romans, win­ner of the 1996 Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award, Charles H. Revson­Award in Jew­ish-Chris­t­ian Relations.

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